Pac-12 basketball power rankings: Breaking down the bubble
A close look at the Pac-12 tournament picture
The most recent slate of Pac-12 games featured season-defining victories, eyebrow-raising defeats, several overtime games and a buzzer beater for good measure. So, you know, just another week in West Coast basketball.
With all the parity in recent weeks, several teams have worked their way into, and out of, the bubble picture. Now that Selection Sunday, March 17, is less than a month away, it’s time to take a look at the Pac-12’s tournament resumes.
Arizona (21-4, 9-4 Pac-12) [RPI 10, SOS 15]
The Wildcats played like a No. 1-seed throughout nonconference play, going a perfect 12-0. During Pac-12 play? Not so much. Arizona has a respectable 9-4 record but has only a few impressive wins and several flaws (point guard play, 3-point defense) have been put on full display.
With that said, Arizona is a mortal lock to make the tournament so what’s left for the Wildcats is seeding and conference accolades. Right now Sean Miller’s team is tentative 3-seed. A strong finish could push it up, but their current rank seems just about right.
Oregon (21-5, 10-3) [RPI 38, SOS 121]
Already in the midst of a three-game losing streak, the Ducks trailed Utah 30-22 at halftime in Eugene. All the good grace they earned during their 7-0 conference start seemed to be going up in flames. But just like that, Oregon went on a 34-15 run to open up the second half, took down Utah, and now looks like the favorite to capture the Pac-12 again.
The Ducks need guard Dominic Artis to return if they want to make a tournament splash. Still, they look to be back on track and would need an epic collapse to not be in on Selection Sunday. UO’s strength of schedule is the only reason it’s not a lock like Arizona for the tournament.
UCLA (19-7, 9-4) [RPI 41, SOS 36]
This is where things start to get interesting. UCLA has been anything but consistent this year and has four losses against teams outside the RPI Top-50. Still, UCLA has amassed enough goodwill, and collected enough talent, to be a tournament team.
Three of its final five games are on the road, but it’s not exactly murder’s row as they travel to USC and the Washington schools. Even a decent finish (3-2) and one win in the Pac-12 tournament should comfortably push UCLA into March Madness.
The early-season loss at home against Cal Poly (184 RPI) could be a red flag during selection time. But, as Arizona saw a few seasons ago, name recognition can go a long way.
Colorado (17-8, 7-6) [RPI 21, SOS 9]
The Buffs haven’t played like a tournament team through most of Pac-12 play, but as long as they approach the 20-win threshold, Colorado will be dancing this year.
Considering it has Utah and Oregon State at home still, CU is in very good shape.
Sure, the barely over .500 conference record is rough. Its RPI and strength of schedule? Not so much. And, if it comes down to bubble selection, the committee could take into account the Arizona games. Not only did Colorado beat the Wildcats easily in Boulder, but the questionable call on Sabatino Chen’s buzzer beater could be a nice wild card for the Buffs to play if need be.
California (16-9, 8-5) [RPI 54, SOS 35]
Several weeks ago it would’ve been insane to call Cal a tournament team. Now with the Golden Bears winning five of their last six games, it has a real shot at the Pac-12 title, especially with another Oregon sweep.
With that said, the mediocre start puts Cal in a tough position to make it off the bubble and firmly into the picture. Neither its RPI nor its SOS is impressive and the 16 wins is a little low. Guard Allen Crabbe and Co. need to pick up a few more wins if they want to punch their ticket to the Big Dance.
Arizona State (19-7, 8-5) [RPI 70, SOS 125]
This past weekend was one part great and one part awful for the Sun Devils. Picking up another Top-25 RPI win, and this time at Colorado? Amazing. Losing to another sub-150 RPI team in Utah? Devastating.
ASU has the record to make it, and the conference chops as well. But, its RPI and SOS aren’t worthy of March Madness.
Arizona State finishes the season at the Los Angeles Schools and then in Tucson — if the Sun Devils pick up two wins there, they should be in. Otherwise, ASU will probably be on the wrong side of the bubble.
Stanford (15-11, 6-7) [RPI 73, SOS 42]
Stanford was in after its win at ASU, but its back-to-back losses to the LA schools at home seemingly closes the door. Stanford’s 15-11 record is mediocre and it lacks any signature wins beyond the 76-52 victory at Oregon.
The Pac-12 isn’t getting seven teams. Heck, it’d be lucky to get five with how the recent weeks have gone by. Stanford needs an almost flawless finish to make it into the tournament. It’s possible, just unlikely.
Pac-12 Power Rankings: Week Eight
1. No. 23 Oregon (21-5, 10-3 Pac-12) Last Week: 3
This Week: vs. Cal, vs. Stanford
Week Seven: W 65-52 at Wash., W 79-77 OT at WSU
2. No. 12 Arizona (21-4, 9-4) LW: 1
This Week: vs. Washington, vs. WSU
Week Seven: L 71-58 at Colo., W 68-64 at Utah
3. UCLA (19-7, 9-4) LW: 2
This Week: at USC
Week Seven: L 76-63 at Cal, W 88-80 at Stan.
4. California (16-9, 8-5) LW: 7
This Week: at Oregon, at OSU
Week Seven: W 76-63 vs. UCLA, W 76-68 vs. USC
5. Colorado (17-8, 7-6) LW: 6
This Week: vs. Utah
Week Seven: W 71-58 vs. Ariz., L 63-62 OT vs. ASU
6. Arizona State (19-7, 8-5) LW: 4
This Week: vs. WSU, vs. Wash
Week Seven: L 60-55 at Utah, W 63-62 OT at Colo.
7. USC (12-14, 7-6) LW: 8
This Week: vs. UCLA
Week Seven: W 65-64 at Stan., L 76-68 at Cal
8. Stanford (15-11, 6-7) LW: 5
This Week: at OSU, at Oregon
Week Seven: L 65-64 vs. USC, L 88-80 vs. UCLA
9. Washington (14-12, 6-7) LW: 9
This Week: at Arizona, at ASU
Week Seven: L 65-52 vs. Ore., W 72-62 vs. OSU
10. Utah (11-14, 3-10) LW: 10
This Week: at Colorado
Week Seven: W 60-55 vs. ASU, L 68-64 vs. Ariz.
11. Oregon State (13-13, 3-10) LW: 11
This Week: vs. Stanford, vs. Cal
Week Seven: W 67-66 at WSU, L 72-62 at Wash.
12. Washington State (11-15, 2-11) LW: 12
This Week: at ASU, at Arizona
Week Seven: L 67-66 vs. OSU, L 79-77 OT vs. Ore.